Monday, August 31, 2009

Can't wait? Then take the big leap...

Ran across this interesting piece in the paper today (from the Charlotte Observer) about a University of Texas sociology professor.

Seems the professor has a solution for all those young folks who are having trouble refraining from having sex: just go ahead and get married so you can do it.

Mark Regnerus, the professor, is getting a lot of heat from his colleagues for his simple solution for couples who can't seem to keep their hands off each other.

But a few folks say he may be right on target. If you've got a hot, steamy romance, why not just go ahead and tie the knot, they say, and make it legal.

Here's the article--would be interested in your comments on it Feel free to click on the "Comment" icon at the end and write your response:

Don’t wait to get married

AUSTIN, Texas – If Christians aren’t waiting until marriage to have sex – and statistics show they aren’t – Mark Regnerus says he’s found the perfect solution: They should just get married right after high school.

This idea has gotten the 38-year-old University of Texas sociology professor a lot of grief, a little bit of praise and too many interview requests for him to handle. Regnerus has also been called everything from a sexist to a hillbilly, he said.

The name-calling started in April, when Regnerus wrote a commentary in the Washington Post entitled, “Say Yes. What Are You Waiting For?” There, he introduced the ideas that he would expand for this month’s Christianity Today cover story, “The Case for Early Marriage.”

His premise, in the Christianity Today piece, is that the evangelical emphasis on abstinence, combined with the growing number of adults who are getting married later in life, has created economic, biological and emotional problems for Christians. U.S. Census Bureau data show that the median age for marriage has been rising steadily since the 1960s, when the median marrying age was 20 for women and 22 for men. By 2007, the median age had risen to 25 for women and 27 for men.

Regnerus’ main argument is “that evangelical Christians have become too preoccupied with sex and turned their attention away from the damage that Americans are doing to the institution of marriage by discouraging it and delaying it.

”I wrote the piece to commend marriage and ask religious communities and parents to reconsider the messages they’re sending to their young adult children,“ he said. ”It’s not a call for teen marriage. Instead, I wanted to push back against the new norm that says you must be crazy, or planning to forfeit your future and your fun, to consider marrying in your early 20s. Why can’t people in love get married when they want to? Why can’t they support each other and reach their goals together?“

Regnerus studies the intersection of sex and religion. He wrote the 2007 book, ”Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers,“ which debunked some myths about teen sexuality trends using survey data and interviews with more than 250 American teens.

”He’s a very productive and prominent sociologist in the area of religion,“ said Robert Hummer, the chairman of UT’s sociology department. ”Sometimes, he expresses views that are somewhat out of the mainstream of academic sociologists. That being said, everyone has a right to do that.“

Married with three young children, Regnerus is the son of a Reformed Church in America minister. He was born in Iowa and grew up in Michigan. He met his wife, Deeann, when he was a freshman at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Ill. Regnerus wanted to marry at 21, he said, but his father forbade it. So the couple married when he was 22.

”The idea of early marriage before 25 is unpalatable,“ Regnerus said. ”Currently, the story is that you shouldn’t get married until you’re 28. It’s a compelling story that doesn’t have an empirically strong foundation, but it’s still a powerful script.“

Since the August article was published, some of his interactions at church – he attends services at a Presbyterian church and a nondenominational church – have turned awkward, he said. He described the general tone as: “’Saw the article. I don’t agree with you. Let’s talk about it over coffee.’“ When he met with a reporter over coffee at his home in mid-August, he said he had done three radio interviews in three days and was starting to turn down interview requests.

”You don’t write not to be heard,“ Regnerus said. ”On the other hand, nobody likes to look like a right-wing nut job, especially when you work for a secular university.“
In the Christianity Today piece, which editors of the Illinois-based evangelical magazine say is ”the most talked-about cover story“ in months, Regnerus said, ”Evangelical discourse on sex is more conservative than I’ve ever seen it.“ However, virginity pledges and chastity balls haven’t gone far toward ”shaping our sexual decision-making.“

Abstinence-only discussions have led some to believe that sex after marriage would be phenomenal if people would only wait, he said, but ”the problem is that not all abstainers end up happy or go on to the great sex lives they were promised.“

An estimated 90 percent of American adults have sex before they get married, he said. And ”the percentage of evangelicals who do so is not much lower.“ He essentially calls for a more holistic and biblical view of marriage, despite pragmatic arguments people may have against couples getting married young.

”While sex matters, marriage matters more,“ Regnerus wrote.

In the blogosphere, some evangelicals think he’s right. Some women of a certain age have harsher words.

In response to his Post piece, reactions included: ”The author of this article should join the 21st century and realize women no longer need marriage (or children for that matter) to be successful or respected in our world.“

Others said his views were ”insulting to women.“

Dave Jensen, associate professor of constructive theology at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, said he considers Regnerus’ research and points valid, if somewhat extreme.

”I’m a bit skeptical about whether early marriage is the answer to some of the things he raises,“ said Jensen, who is writing a book about theology and sexuality.

Jensen said the strong backlash Regnerus got to his ideas – including 296 mostly negative online comments to his Washington Post article and 240 not-as-harsh online comments on the Christianity Today piece – has to do with the connection most people make between romance and sexuality.

”But I appreciate his ability to shift the evangelical conversation away from the hoopla of things like chastity balls, which put sex at the center of Christian life,“ Jensen said.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Spell check not always a writer's friend

My friend and colleague, Dr. Guy Reel, just sent me this piece (click on boldface headline above) about nuances of our English language.

The article, a commentary from the New York Times, talks about these tricky pairs of words:

•straighten and straiten

•gibe and jibe

•teaming and teeming

•insuring and ensuring

Podcast link for CalPoly

Click on link above for podcast

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Farewell, my students

I played around with a song and with my hand-held video camera last April--bidding farewell to all the students in my Media Writing class. They survived me and vice versa! (I don't think any of them got to "enjoy" this song cause they were out the door soon as the exam ended.) Can't blame them for running fast as they could!

Anyway, here's a bit of Roy Orbison karaoke. (Guess it would have been better had I known the song's words.)

Turn your sound up, and click on the hotlink boldface headline above for my farewell anthem.

Baloney Detection Kit

Thanks to my colleague, Dr. Marilyn Sarow, for sending me this video about how to tell if someone is telling the truth.

Has, of course, giant implications, for journalists. They think of themselves as truth seekers.

Narrator of the video is Michael Shermer, founding publisher of "Skeptic" magazine and a columnist for "Scientific American" magazine. Shermer is also the author of books on science, religion and history.

Turn up your sound and click on the boldface hotlink headline above.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Huggable idea

Would we all be better humans if we went around giving each other (even total strangers) a big hug? Would hugs help bring out our humanity?

Food for thought.

Turn up your sound and click on the hotlink boldface headline above for a video on what might happen.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Three quare stories

Quare (yes there is such a word because a Kentucky farmer once used it with me in a conversation) stuff happens over a long hot summer.

Consider the following three news bulletins--all of which came to my attention in recent weeks:

1. A 50-year-old man in the Wampee community of Horry County, S.C., was caught on video surveillance in late July having sex with a 21-year-old horse named Sugar, authorities say.

The horse's owner, Barbara Kenley (that's her in the photo accompanying this blog post), is beside herself with grief, saying that Sugar's stable, the place where the man/horse sex act supposedly occurred, was her favorite haven or refuge for stress relief.

Not anymore. Seems that stable, in Kenley's mind, has been desecrated:

``That stable was my getaway, my stress relief,'' said Kenley, who has owned the stable for 20 years. ``Everybody has a place they like to go to get away. Now it is totally destroyed. It is the only thing I have in life.''

"In 20 years I've never had a problem like this,'' Kenley said. ``I never knew people did such a thing.''

The man, who has a history of mental problems, was charged with buggery.

2. John Henson, the longtime former High Sheriff (yes, that's what they call the sheriff in Carter County, Tennessee) was charged this summer in nearby Washington County, Tenn., with getting too close to a woman in a laundromat--as in hugging her when she says she didn't want to be hugged.

Now you must remember, the High Sheriff is a key player in the mountains of east Tennesee--much admired, much respected, much feared, much hated (you get the point by now.) Even former High Sheriffs remain key players up in the high country.

Be that as it may, Henson faced a judge in early June who found him guilty of simple assault when he encountered that woman in April in the laudromat and pulled her too close to him (Henson).

Such an act was offensive and uncalled for, the judge ruled, and the former High Sheriff should have left the woman alone--to do her washing or drying or folding whatever...

Henson had to pay a $50 fine and was placed on six months of unsupervised probation; plus he can have no contact whatsoever with laudromat woman.

Stay away from her, Big John!

But then, what to make of this comment--posted online by "Michelle": "I saw this incident happen. It happened in front of me. She was a willing participant in the hugging. She even told him that she was glad for all of the help he had given her while she was incarcerated. I think that the video at the store should be viewed. I have no interest invested in this case. I feel she may be out to get a quick buck if she chooses to sue him."

3. Lastly, and also very "quare" is this blurb from Kingsport, Tenn., about a Wal-Mart employee bitten a couple of weeks ago by a shoplifter. Here's the scoop, as reported by the Associated Press:

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (AP) — Police said a Wal-Mart employee was bitten while confronting a customer about shoplifting. Officers said a 44-year-old woman bit the employee on the arm while trying to leave the store’s garden center Tuesday afternoon without paying for items in her purse.

The woman was arrested on charges of theft and assault.

According to the Kingsport Times-News, items recovered from her purse were valued at about $32.

Information from: Kingsport Times-News,

So much for working at Wal-Mart, ladies and gentlemen. Those underpaid employees with the smiley-face shirts have enough to do without having to fend off biting thieves.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

News from the mountains

Been awhile since the old blogster did any damage, but I've been meaning to share this news tidbit from the mountains of east Tennessee.

Names have been changed to protect whomever, but the essential facts of the following, which happened early this summer, are true:

It was a funeral in a small mountain community--let's call it Rockyville. As these occasions go, this service was solemn--up to a point.

The pallbearers--grim and with slicked back hair and sporting a rose in each of their lapels--sat near the open casket listening attentively to the presiding minister's eulogy. No one chewed. No heads sagged. All seemed focused on what the man in the robe had to say about the person lying there in the casket.

Lots of good, positive, uplifting vibes emerged from the minister's mouth concerning what a fine, upstanding person the deceased had been. He had many friends. He had been loved by his family and fellow churchgoers. He had led a good life...

Suddenly, one of the pallbearers burst out: "He'd a had a lot better one if Ben's old dog hadn't bit him!"

True story.

You can't invent this stuff.